It’s a first-world problem, no question, but a car without a Bluetooth-compatible stereo is a car without joy. How else can you listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts streamed from your phone?
The AUX-in jack? Sorry, your phone doesn’t have an output jack anymore. It’s Bluetooth or nothing!
For years now, the workaround has been the old-standby FM transmitter, which provides a Bluetooth link between your phone and an unused frequency on the radio.
There are, at last count, several zillion of these products on Amazon. Different shapes, different configurations, different prices. But few as cheap as this: For a limited time, Efans (via Amazon) has the Titita Wireless FM Transmitter is $9.64 with promo code ZPDT37QS. That’s what I call worth-a-try pricing.
See it at Amazon
The gadget plugs into your car’s 12-volt adapter (once upon a time, we called that port a “cigarette lighter”). Then you pair your phone to it. Then you find a station on your stereo with little or no signal and tune the transmitter to match. Presto! You’ve got Bluetooth audio — after a fashion.
The big caveat: If you live in or near a big city with lots of FM action, you may have trouble finding an open frequency. This has long been the issue with transmitters like these, and unfortunately static can start to creep in as you drive around.
But, hey, for under $10? Maybe worth a try. The transmitter also supplies a pair of USB charging ports (a 1A and a 2.1A), a line-in jack and a backlit screen that shows song info, station setting and so on. Interestingly, you can also plug in a microSD card or USB flash drive and play any MP3 or WMA files stored there. (Old-school!)
Finally, there’s a built-in microphone for hands-free calling — and you can hear your callers through your car speakers, a huge improvement over your phone’s tiny ones.
This is a new product, and therefore you won’t find any user reviews. But most similar products have mostly good ratings, so it’s a safe bet this will work as advertised — provided there’s some FM bandwidth to spare.
Bonus deal: You don’t need the latest iPhone to capture killer video — nearly all modern phones have pretty darn good cameras. What you need is a way to record rock-steady footage. What you need is a handheld gimbal.
Like this one: For a limited time, and while supplies last, Tomtop has the Andoer S5 3-axis handheld smartphone gimbal for $72 shipped. It’s normally $109, and I rarely see products like these selling for below $100.
See it at Tomtop
For those unfamiliar with the concept, a gimbal uses a combination of weights and motors to keep a camera steady while it’s in motion. That means you can walk or even run and enjoy much smoother video than you could just holding the phone in your hand.
This model appears to be brand new. I haven’t seen reviews here at Tomtop or at Amazon (where it’s $100, FYI). But it looks similar to, well, similar gimbals, so I’d expect a good experience.
Note: This will be coming from China, so expect a good two to three weeks for shipping.
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